Welcome to Module 3:Discovering Evolutionary Patterns in Socio-Cultural Systems
Throughout this module you will have the opportunity to reflect on the following questions: What is the influence of language on the development of personal and group identity and culture? Can you recognize the multiple and diverse voices within yourself and how they create your complex identity (your sense of “Self”)? Are these voices in harmony or in conflictwith one another? What can you do to creativelyevolve your consciousness?
Here inModule 3 of the World 1 course,you will investigate how our socio-cultural systems evolved into ever more complex systems. First, you will explore identity and culture as emergent phenomena mediated by language. Next, you will get an overview of the development of consciousness from tribal to global communities. Finally, you will be asked to consider the question: what would it mean for humans to be co-creators and active participants in their own evolutionary process? How would you engage in that process, and how can we, as a species, curate that process in harmony with the broader evolutionary dynamics of which we are a part, as explored in Module 2?
In this first Learning Unit, you will explore how language facilitates the emergence of both identity and culture.
The evolutionary principles you are exploring in this course are directly applicable to your everyday life and relationships and even to how you create your sense of reality. These words being read to you now are a form of long-range "thought control" that has been part of the human experience for at least 200,000 years. Language is one of the principal means by which humans have evolved higher-order thinking and cooperation. What can the example of a child's acquisition of language teach us about what it means to be human in an evolutionary context?This is what you will explore here in Learning Unit 1 of Module 3 of the World 1 course of this Certificate Program.
Language is also the means by which humans come to know themselves and their place in their community of fellow humanbeings. In some sense, the language learning process continues throughout life. Most likely, you are already encountering new language and ways of thinking in this course. How can you connect with these new words and phrases and use them to activate your own deep understanding of the concepts presented? How does language facilitate -- or get in the way of -- your understanding of yourself and others? In the second part of this unit, you will have a chance to reflect on the power of language not only to describe, but also to change or shift who you think you are in the evolutionary context of your life.
In the second Learning Unit of Module 2, you will review 4 stages of consciousness and identity associated with humans and their societal forms over the period of four developmental epochs of human history: Epoch 1: Small Groups and Tribes Epoch 2: City-States Epoch 3: Nation-States, and Epoch 4: Global Community
Epoch 1: Small Groups and TribesTribal consciousness existed in the Paleolithic period of human history, roughly 12,000 years ago and earlier, but continues into the present in some primary cultures such as the Hadza, a tribe in modern day Tanzania. During those distant times, people relied on hunting and gathering to obtain food and other necessities of life. Populations were very small by modern standards, and had relatively little impact on the environments in which they were situated. Tools were made from stone, wood, bone, and other natural materials found readily at hand.The form of consciousidentity at this stage of human development centers on the family, clan, and tribe. Individual identity, individualism, along with legal and moral rights of the individual, do not exist. Connections between individuals in the immediate community are intimate, as are connections with nature. One does not exist as a person outside the community. In some tribal communities, people may even be connected telepathically,to varying degrees.
Epoch 2: City-StatesThe shift in consciousness from the more or less undifferentiated tribal consciousness of the Paleolithic began around 10,000 BCE with the advent of the agricultural revolution, and thus the beginnings of Neolithic culture. Technology became much more sophisticated, such as the invention of the oil lamp, the plow, irrigation of crops, ships, navigation, etc. The earliest communities large enough to be called “cities” emerged in the Near East 8–10,000 years ago. At this stage of our development, human identity is associated with the city orcity-state. Those outside may not even be considered to be human. This was certainly how the early Greeks saw things. Individual social roles – such as soldier, scribe, farmer, nursemaid – are importantand constitute the core of human identity. Nevertheless, it is at this point that the human ego begins to play an important role, especially among leaders. Survival activities are directed at and limited to one’s own identity group, for example one’s own city—as is the case even today in religious and ethnic groups that have sealed themselves off to various degrees from the rest of society.This type of consciousness produces heroes, poets, architects, and politicians, but has little to no empathy for non-members, including other life-forms and Earth, herself. The ancient Greeks produced excellent examples of these qualities. In other cultures, it is the priests who often control much of the power, as was the case in ancient Mesopotamia.
Epoch 3: Nation-StatesHere we enter the modern world, and society becomes much more complex. After the Dark Ages, the Renaissance brought an awakening to the beauty and reality of the natural physical world, followed in short order by the Enlightenment and then the Industrial Revolution. The Enlightenment heralded a complete shift in worldview toward a reductionist, logical, and ultimately mechanistic view of nature as something to be mastered and put to work for humankind’s convenience, pleasure, and profit. Francis Bacon’s mandate for science to “put nature to the rack,” left little doubt that the human is separate from and superior to untamed nature.At this stage, personal identity is associated with the nation, or nationalism. The appearance of nation states as we know them today is relatively new (from the 19th century by most accounts), and has replaced many earlier sources of indigenous identity. Clearly, identity with individual nation states -- such as the U.S., Germany, or Palestine -- at the expense of others, was one of the great sources of strife during the 20th century. This is still the case despite efforts to coordinate individual national interests such as through the creation of the League of Nations, which gave way to the United Nations.
Epoch 4: Global CommunityAt this very moment, wherever you may be in the world, you are living through a transitional moment in history. As historian William Irwin Thompson notes, it is as if we exist in two ages at once. As we walk down the street we pass others living in the same emerging age as ourselves, while others we pass are still inhabiting the declining age of mechanism. The friction between these is enormous. Cultural historian Jean Gebser predicted as many as several hundred years of turmoil before the transition is complete, but we cannot afford that kind of time given the harsh realities of this day and age.The holistic paradigm you have learned about in this course promises a synthesis of the universal principles from traditional and ancient spirituality to modern science and deep ecology. Today already, all over the world, a segment of society that has already departed from Modernism and that Paul Ray calls the “Cultural Creatives” are bringing forward a new global consciousness based spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, and the worth of the feminine. This group is soon to reach about 60 million people, the first critical mass for a process of globalshift. Now is the time, as Jean Houston invite us to do, to break free of our restricted worldview and make our way into the territory of a new worldview.This is your future, and it is also one that your children and theirs will celebrate – or will they? Keep this question in mind when you finish this course and being engaging with the World 2 course. Just remember; wherever you may be in the world, you are living through a transitional moment in history.
Learning Unit 3: Humans as Co-Creators and Active Participants in the Evolutionary Process.As Barbara Marx Hubbard reminds us, we are an integral part of the evolutionary journey. We carry the code of conscious evolution within us. In our awakening lie the patterns of the planetary transition from our current phase to the next phase. In fact, more than the products or outcome of the grand evolutionary train you explored in World 1, you are evolution, itself, and together with all the rest of this planet, we express the process through which the universe is becoming. This learning unit is our invitation to you to become co-creator of your future evolution. It is your choice whether or not to accept the invitation; it might also be your calling. If you do, it will require you to awaken to your call and transform your consciousness toward an holistic view of the world. As Dr. Seuss might say at such juncture: unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not.
If you care for things to get better, how do you evolve your consciousness? How can you become whole?There are many steps and actions you can take to initiate and facilitate your personal process of change.One of the first and foremost is to educate yourself and learn. The good news is that this is precisely what you have chosen to do in taking this course. This is your chance to learn about new scientific findings, new discoveries related to your evolution and the evolution of your consciousness. Learn about different cultures and ways to understand the world – this is essential to being the change you wish to see in the world.Second, Increase your level of awareness of what is happening around you, in your local community and in the world. Bring a critical eye to the understanding of the challenges our societies face. Ask many questions. Challenge assumptions and beliefs. Uncover patterns—both positive and negative—and identify the worldviews that underlie our current behaviors and crises. As you will soon see, this is precisely the sort of thing you will be doing in World 2 of this program.Third, develop daily practices to help you bring your inner self in alignment with your outer self – your insight in harmony with your outsight – and in doing so, achieve a greater unity between your body and your mind. Some practices you can use might be meditation, contemplation, yoga, walking in nature, martial arts, and any kind of artistic activities that helps you connect to your deepest source of creativity.Fourth, pay attention of the particular way you behave and to your actions and make changes to what you do and how you do it whenever necessary. For instance, do your best to live in a more sustainable way; respect the intrinsic right to life of all things; help people less privileged than you; work for organizations that support sustainability and are socially responsible.Finally, engage with others. Work with like-minded people to improve the sustainability and resilience of your local environment, or take an activist stance and challenge unconscious, uncaring and unethical practices and help others see the negative impact of their practices on your neighborhood, region, country and the whole world.
You have immense creative power, and you probably realize this. But what does it really mean?Remember all you have learned so far in this course, especially about the way living systems adapt, self-organize and create emergent structures better adapted to their environment. Living systems are creative. The power of creativity is the power of life. How alive are you?Erving Laszlo says that creativity “is the power to make your thoughts appear in this world. Creativity is the power you exert to convert your imagination to reality…It is up to you to create that wish you wish to create. You create it by using your own life force—your creativity—as you move toward your chosen goals…Once you decide what kind of life you wish to lead, or what kind of person you wish to be, your creative power acts upon that wish and your life takes shape in this world…What would you like to do? What would you like to become?”He goes on to say that “at all times, your creative power is unleashed by your own consciousness. Just as birth and death are inseparably linked in the continuum of life, creativity and consciousness are joined together within the life power that flows to you from your life’s source. As you strive to achieve your goal, you continue to create yourself from moment to moment.”It is at challenging times in your life that it becomes important to find the wisest way to exert your creativity. To achieve our goals, we must never take a weak-spirited attitude to life. As ecologist Janine Benyus says, life creates the conditions conducive to life. What will you create?Never doubt yourself. Believe in the power of your own creativity.
Our future and the future of much of life on our planet depend on whether or not we are able to creatively transform our consciousness into a unified worldview in which everything is connected and whole.We can change the world! You can change the world!!